Better Bad TV ahead

Looks like the WGA is going to settle their strike. Meanwhile there’s the below

a parody of the Tom Cruise video in support of the WGA. A daring video to make: Cruise runs United Artists, don’t forget. It’s a good send-up of a pompous ass.

Once they settle, though we’ll be back to bad TV. More of that all-too-common character the TV writers will come up with this season and next: the Mad Genius. It’s a character I first noticed on the X Files. That show’s main character, Fox Mulder, was erratic, funny, a nonconformist who wore a suit and tie, but nonetheless still worked for The Man. He was considered a jerk by everyone, including his coworker Sculley, who after years and years, never learned that her partner was always right.

People discourage that Mad Genus character. But he’s always right. Same with CSI. Same with House. Same with every other detective show out right now.

I wonder what that means. Previous shows, if the detective worked for The Man, say a government agency, he was a Steve McGarrett, who used every one of the government’s tentacles to get that weasely criminal. But now—it’s a disgruntled worker who is one who finds him. On the cheap. Because he’s obsessed.

This isn’t to be confused with the whack-job detective who figures stuff out. The whack job isn’t all-knowing. The detective in the movie Zodiac is an example of that. Or to stay with TV, that old series Columbo. Columbo wasn’t sexy-man smart. He wasn’t always right; he was seeking out what was right, all the while getting discouraged in his efforts by the villain (perfect post-Watergate fodder). Columbo, however, isn’t a character for today’s office workers to identify with. We prefer the smart guy who has just south of going postal.

That seems to be where we are right now. Viewers are disgruntled and want to identify with the disgruntled (who have been glamorized). Viewers seem to identify with the cause of truth, but not the force behind the cause, the bureaucracy.

Used to be the outlaw force of good was a private detective, the Rockford Files private eye. No more. We all work for The Man, now. We just do it reluctantly.

I guess the rest of us either turn off our TVs. Or turn to Scientology. Or Tom Cruise.

About Meakin Armstrong

Fiction writer, fiction editor, journalist, and copywriter.
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